Many people are looking to other forms of exercise to keep themselves feeling fit and healthy. Although running might not be for everyone, there’s a strong likelihood more people will be giving it a go (even Mr D is considering putting his trainers on for a morning meander with me) and looking for tips for new runners.
So what qualifies me to offer guidance on running? Well above all else, I’ve been there – rewind 18-months and I was at home scouring the internet for tips for new runners. I had all the gear and no idea!
The great thing with running is it doesn’t have to involve seeing anyone or touching anything (I went out this morning and the only thing I touched was the front door) and contrary to popular belief you don’t need tons of specialist kit, just a pair of decent trainers. So now really is the perfect time to begin.
Get a programme
. . . and don’t expect to become the next Mo Farah overnight! Although it a 10K can appear to be a walk in the park, it’s actually quite the opposite and diving straight in at a distance that requires a good degree of cardiovascular health and stamina could not only see your motivation dwindle before you’ve got going, it could also cause injuries.
So start small – there are several ‘Couch-to-5K’ apps available to download that will coach you through your first few runs and you can also download my free Couch-to-5K Training Plan to help you on your journey too!
Get the right kit
. . . now unfortunately, there is no such thing as a ‘universal trainer’ no matter what some sports stores will tell you. A good pair of running shoes will provide flexibility, durability, and support, wearing something unsuitable (like those used primarily for weight lifting or cross-fit for example) will increase your chance of getting injured.
Having your gait analysed is the best way to find the right trainers for you (this will look at whether you need support or neutral for example) and you can still do this through stores from the comfort of your own home. Remember, when it comes to running shoes function comes before fashion!
Get to know your body
. . . OK so knowing your own body is essential when it comes to any form of exercise – knowing your limits will help you to plan effective rest and recovery. If you’re following a programme for your first foray into the world of running, it is likely rest and recovery will be taken into account (most plans will allow for at least 2-days rest per week) … however, if you’re not it is important to allow your body time to repair muscles as you would with any exercise.
Also getting to know your body will help you vary your runs if you’re not following a programme (gradients, distances, speeds etc.) to maximise the benefits of your runs. For example, a short run with a greater gradient will require more relative effort than a run of the same distance on the flat and if you’re not firing on all cylinders treating yourself to a flat run might be just what you need to blow the cobwebs away.
Get some variety in your life
. . . OK, so I really wanted to title this section ‘spice up your life’ but my need to make all the headings match wouldn’t let me! I know that gyms/leisure-centres/workout spaces are closed right now (and even when they’re open, they’re not everyone’s cup of tea or always accessible), but you can still get some variety in your workout life.
One thing I have found is that upping my running frequency will not necessarily make you a better runner, and in fact what does is complimenting my training with weight-training or mobility exercises.
Let’s face it – we don’t all have the space (or money) to kit out our homes with the latest kit, so why not try to incorporate some body-weight exercises (Carly Rowena has some fantastic workout cards and resources) or mobility moves (Sarah’s Day has some fab ideas on her Instagram account) into your alternative sessions to help ward off any potential injuries?
Get some healthy habits
. . . adopting healthy habits and making sure you are fueling your body correctly will really help you to enjoy your new hobby! Any change in exercise regime can be demanding on your body; you need to eat to replace lost calories, concentrating on dietary fibre, vegetables and whole grains. Don’t fall into the diet trap of believing all fats are bad for you, healthy fats are essential for both energy and recovery.
Another healthy habit you should adopt is sleeping … and yes I did just say that! Think of your brain like a mobile phone – if you have the background app refresh running and loads of apps your battery will deplete relatively quickly. Your body is no different.
When you take up a new hobby, your brain does not only have to tell your body what to do, it also has to think about it as well.
Sleep is the equivalent of plugging your phone into a mains charger – because this is the time when your body releases the growth hormone, allowing your muscles to repair and is a vital part of exercise. Inadequate sleep can lead to exhaustion, injury and illness so make sure that you are allowing your body the time it needs.
But above all else I would say this – get out there and try it! I know that for many, running is like Marmite (and I love Marmite so naturally love running too) but it really does have so many benefits that I truly believe that anyone can learn to love it if they give it a try.
It gives you time to switch off, time to yourself, time with friends (at a socially responsible distance of course), time outdoors … There’s hardly any prerequisites for running and yes it may be hard, and yes some days you may rue the day you looked up these tips for new runners, but the feeling at the end of a good run is pure joy (I genuinely feel good at the end of each run, no matter what mood I set off in) and that feeling is something we could all do with a dose of at the moment.